The first Baldwin County Public Schools superintendent's breakfast of the 2023-24 school year was hosted at the South Baldwin Center for Technology in Robertsdale on Sept.15. Superintendent Eddie …
The first Baldwin County Public Schools superintendent's breakfast of the 2023-24 school year was hosted at the South Baldwin Center for Technology in Robertsdale on Sept.15.
Superintendent Eddie Tyler opened the event with an announcement before introducing key leaders from the school board who highlighted what this school year will look like and touched on recent achievements.
Tyler said the next breakfast, which will be held in November, will be centered around Baldwin Preparatory Academy, which is set to open fall 2024 and serve grades 10-12. Baldwin Preparatory Academy will implement a new model for teaching that has not yet been seen in Alabama, largely focusing on sharpening career technical skills.
Marty McRae, assistant superintendent of safety, prevention and athletics, gave an overview of the upcoming advancements in security that are currently being implemented or planned throughout the county.
Centegix crisis alert buttons, which were first administered during the 2022-23 school year, are given to teachers to wear around their neck and at the push of a button can alert their school's crisis team (composed of administrators, nurses and student resource officers) in the case of an emergency.
McRae also said he is working on a project to install brand new security cameras throughout the county, creating a uniform surveillance system in every school.
Joe Sharp, assistant superintendent, said Baldwin County Public Schools is currently in the Top 10 highest performing counties in the state for ACT proficiency. Sharp said they are ranked 11th in English proficiency and 10th in math proficiency.
Sharp also cited the recent report from the U.S News & Report that named Fairhope High School and Daphne High School among the top 25 schools in the state; Fairhope ranked No. 19, while Daphne ranked No. 24.
New teacher mentor program:
Tiffany Wilson, human resources director, spoke about the county's teacher mentor program, which pairs first year teachers with a mentor for three years, helping them transition into the role and cultivate their skills.
"Brand new teachers are paired with a mentor for three years, and new teachers with teaching experience are paired with a mentor for one or two semesters," Wilson said. "We want teachers who are new to our county to learn the Baldwin County way."
Wilson said there is also a new principal mentoring program launching this year, as well as an employee wellness program. Wilson said the county has hired over 600 new teachers this year, and has currently processed over 600 substitute teachers.
John Wilson, chief financial officer, gave an overview of the budget for this school year, totaling $740 million. Wilson said approximately $250 million will be spent on building projects for the school system and $340 million on salaries and benefits with $80 million spent on retirement, health care and federal benefits for teachers and county employees.
Wilson said there are several projects still in progress, including phase five of the county's pay-as-you-go program and the construction of Baldwin Preparatory Academy. Wilson also offered several "fun facts" regarding the school system's budget.
"I call these John Wilson fun facts," Wilson laughed. "There are approximately 4.2 million meals a year served to students each year, and 3.5 million miles of transportation provided each year for students. You could go to the moon and back 7 times."
Wilson also said the county is in the top fived in the state for the highest starting pay for teachers.
"That's where we move the needle, is getting the most qualified people in the school system and in the classroom," Wilson said.
Wilson also said student enrollment is at an all time high after losing approximately 3,500 students due to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach each splitting into their own city school systems.
"The last couple of years enrollment has been all over the place, with CIVD-19 and the two city systems breaking away," Wilson said. "Even after those 3,500 students who went back to the island, we are right back to where we were before the breakaway in just three years."
Jeremy King, education technology support services coordinator, who wrapped up the event, said the county is making strides to incorporate technology both in the classroom and in at-home learning.
"Every teacher in this county has an online presence, and all of students can go home and open their Chromebook and access almost all of their resources," King said. "There are colleges that don't deal with the amount of online instruction that we do."
King also said that his team is currently working on a project to enhance the audio quality in Baldwin County schools, which he said has shown dramatic improvements with the ESL [English as a second language] student population.